A week has passed since the Daily Mail broke the news of domestic abuse allegations against now former White House staff secretary Rob Porter.
The next day, Colbie Holderness, Porter’s first wife, released photos of herself with a badly bruised eye.
Jennie Willoughby, Porter’s second wife, confirmed that abuse was the cause of her divorce from Porter. In the wake of his resignation, Porter denied all allegations.
Both women have now written about their experiences for major national publications, Holderness for The Washington Post and Willoughby for Time.
“For me, living in constant fear of Rob’s anger and being subjected to his degrading tirades for years chipped away at my independence and sense of self-worth,” Holderness writes in an op-ed published by The Washington Post on Monday. “I walked away from that relationship a shell of the person I was when I went into it, but it took me a long time to realize the toll that his behavior was taking on me. (Rob has denied the abuse, but Willoughby and I know what happened.)”
Holderness also discusses reporting abuse, being doubted and life after abuse.
In a piece for Time, Willoughby addresses President Donald Trump’s defense of Porter in a tweet that suggests he believes recent allegations against multiple White House staffers to be false.
Willoughby writes that “the issue here is deeper than whether Trump, or General John Kelly, or Sarah Huckabee Sanders, or Senator Orrin Hatch, or Hope Hicks, or whether anyone else believes me or defends Rob.
“Society as a whole has a fear of addressing our worst secrets. (Just ask any African-American citizen). It’s as if we have a societal blind spot that creates an obstacle to understanding. Society as a whole doesn’t acknowledge the reality of abuse."
Holderness writes about never imagining herself in the situation she's in now.
"I’m not a partisan," she writes. "I’m not an activist — far from it, in fact. Willoughby and I didn’t seek to tell our stories in such a public way. Rather, others sought us out in the course of investigating Rob. I also never imagined I would be in an abusive relationship.”23 comments on this story
But the two women are not shying away from speaking up about Porter, a Rhodes Scholar, Oxford graduate and LDS returned missionary.
“In light of the President’s and the White House’s continued dismissal of me and Colbie, I want to assure you my truth has not been diminished,” Willoughby writes. “I own my story and now that I have been compelled to share it, I’m not willing to cover it up for anyone. And for any men, women or children currently in situations of abuse, please know: It is real. You are not crazy. You are not alone. I believe you.”